Despite the best efforts of meteorologists, winters are still pretty hard to predict. It can be difficult to grow fresh gardens during the winter. Luckily, technology exists to beat mother nature. Even if the weather outside doesn’t cooperate, you still have options. We’ll look at everything from how indoor hydroponic systems work to the advantages of using LED grow lights over traditional ones. So if you’re a gardener who loves what you do but dreads winter, read on to learn how you can start growing again this year.
Growing Fruit Trees Inside
While not ideal, if you live in a climate that can experience several hard frosts during a year, you’ll be better off growing your fruit trees inside. Just make sure they have enough light and a proper watering system. You’ll also need to change your soil mixture (to sandier soil) because sandy soils drain better than heavier ones like clay.
Hydroponic gardening is an innovative way to keep your green thumb alive all year long. Hydroponics is a method of growing plants with mineral-rich water rather than soil while using minimal space. Most hydroponic systems use water, air, and nutrients supplied via pipes.
Today’s hydroponic systems are smart; you can control many by mobile apps that allow you to monitor plant progress remotely. So if you’ve ever wanted to grow vegetables at home but don’t have any outdoor space available for traditional gardening, look into hydroponics – it could be exactly what you need.
If you live in a climate that experiences really cold winters, you probably know that most plants won’t grow in your yard when temperatures drop below freezing. However, if you’re keen on extending your growing season by several months, mini-horticultural tunnels might be your solution. Mini-horticultural (or low tunnel) is an extension of hoop houses and greenhouse technology.
Mini Tunnels gained popularity in recent years because it requires less building materials than greenhouses or hoop houses. To create one, you merely stake up PVC pipes with plastic sheeting attached. If frost continues to form on top of your sheeting, just sprinkle some water on it every few days. You can also place reflective roof material underneath to stop frost from forming under the plastic sheets.
Strawbale Cold Frames
Cold frames are a great way to add a gardening space in your backyard, even when it’s cold outside. They can help you extend your growing season by keeping plants warm and cozy until Mother Nature decides spring has arrived. Strawbale cold frames take these boxes further by using bales of straw or hay for insulation rather than plastic sheets or wood frames.
Insulating with straw is easy, cheap, and better for our environment because straw is biodegradable and doesn’t need any chemicals to keep it from rotting. Some online DIY instructions will show you how to make a simple strawbale cold frame in under an hour.
This hardy Asian green is a low-growing plant that can withstand a lot of frost and snow. A member of the Cruciferae family, Tatsoi has a mild flavor that makes it ideal for salads and stir-fry. It’s harvested from September through November in most parts of the United States. It is easy to grow in open or partially shaded areas. Grow Tatsoi on raised beds or ridge gardens with good drainage for best results.
You don’t have to give up your green thumb for good if you want to start growing food but can’t do it year-round. Indoor gardening may be able to help. Overwintering plants is possible if you know which varieties are best suited for extending their seasons and how best to care for them over the colder months.
Most people think of starting seeds indoors, but there are plenty of ways to keep your plants going beyond their natural lifespans—and there are even crops that you can eat right off of mature plants that have survived below freezing temperatures.
Some Good Overwintered Crops Include:
3. Broccoli raab/rapini
Planting overwintered crops in late summer or early fall will allow plenty of time to grow before winter. Many vegetables that you would normally harvest in the fall, you can also leave on a bed of mulch through December and January.
Not all gardening ends when fall arrives. Homeowners can still tend to vegetables and herbs well into December and even January by using a quick cloche. Cloches are simple, ventilated domes made of flexible plastic or fabric that fit over seed trays and plant pots; they’re available at many home-improvement stores for less than $10. They protect plants from frost and cold winds yet still allow sunlight in through ventilation holes, thus maintaining soil temperature.
Cloches, also known as cold frames, are removable structures. Just sit them directly on top of your garden beds and provide both insulation and protection from pests. These structures have been used for generations by home gardeners worldwide and can be constructed easily out of recycled materials. The best part? Once you have a few built, you never need to buy a new one again.
LED Grow Lights
Grow lights are generally used in conjunction with an indoor grow operation. They provide light for plants grown indoors, which otherwise would not receive sufficient natural light. In addition, grow lights provide supplemental lighting in cases where there is not enough natural sunlight available for plant growth. Since they are most often used in conjunction with growing plants indoors, grow lights can be placed on a timer to mimic day-night cycles that occur when plants are outdoors, facilitating year-round plant growth.
Using LED grow lights requires no additional water usage or fertilizer consumption when compared to other types of artificial lighting. Depending on wattage, LED grow lamps also use less electricity than traditional HID bulbs, last longer, and produce more light per watt.
That concludes our post about using new technology for gardening during the winter months. With the help of smart technology, you can keep your garden growing in winter. With sensors that measure moisture and soil conditions, you can keep track of what’s happening in real-time. Thanks for reading.